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Florida State put its best feet forward and booted Pittsburgh from the unbeaten ranks 36-22 as Bill Capece kicked a school-record five field goals and John Stark averaged 48.1 yards on seven punts. Capece's three-pointers were from 24, 43, 50, 30 and 44 yards. Stark, who boomed one punt 67 yards, would have had an even higher average had he not settled for a 25-yarder that rolled out of bounds at the Pitt 12.
The Panthers, shooting for their 15th consecutive victory, scored first when Dwight Collins caught a 39-yard pass from Dan Marino, whose 18 completions in 34 tries covered 286 yards. The Seminoles, who'd beaten Nebraska the previous week, pulled off their second major upset in a row with the aid of a flexible offense that included plays that could be run either to the left or the right. Quarterback Rick Stockstill, aware that the Pitt defense often overloads to one side, checked off more than half his plays at the line to take advantage of this. He passed for three touchdowns, and his runners went for 163 yards—123 of them by Sam Platt—against a defense that had been yielding an average of only 31 yards a game on the ground. Completing the job was a Florida State defense that forced five fumbles, recovering four of them, and gave up just 86 yards on the ground.
Maryland also thought it might spring a surprise when it went ahead of Penn State 10-3 early in the third period on Charlie Wysocki's five-yard run. But the Terps' visions of ending a streak of 17 losses to the Nittany Lions were short-lived. Less than three minutes later, Penn State's Booker Moore streaked 55 yards for a touchdown. Two TD passes then made the Nittany Lions winners. Freshman Kenny Jackson fought off two defenders to haul in a five-yard toss from Todd Blackledge. Then, on third and goal from the six, Tailback Jon Williams flicked a pass to Fullback Mike Meade to sew up the 24-10 win.
A 43-yard scoring run was part of a season-high 224 yards rushing by George Rogers of South Carolina in the Gamecocks' 20-7 victory over Duke. Teammate Johnnie Wright gained 162 yards in just 13 cracks.
North Carolina and Clemson were victors in ACC games. A pair of scoring strikes by Rod Elkins helped the Tar Heels knock off Wake Forest 27-9 and put them at 5-0 for the first time since 1948. Obed Ariri, a Nigerian who plays professional soccer, kicked a 52-yard field goal in the final six seconds to give Clemson a 27-24 triumph over Virginia. The Cavaliers took a 24-10 lead into the fourth quarter, thanks to the efforts of Quarterback Lindsay Delaney.
Georgia Tech also put up a good fight, holding heavily favored Tennessee to a 10-10 standoff through three periods. But the Yellow Jackets, whose entire starting backfield was sidelined with injuries by halftime, lost 23-10 as the Vols' Alan Duncan kicked fourth-quarter field goals of 40 and 55 yards.
Two winners in Southeastern Conference games also had to scramble. A 17-0 Georgia lead over Mississippi dwindled to 17-14 before the Bulldogs put on a late surge and won 28-21. Georgia's freshman whiz Herschel Walker, playing on a sprained ankle, was held to 44 yards rushing, but third-string Tailback Carnie Norris took over and raced for 150 yards on 15 carries. Louisiana State and Auburn fought like their nicknames—Tigers. Two interceptions by Strong Safety Marcus Quinn were instrumental in LSU's 21-17 triumph. Quinn's first steal set up a touchdown, and his second, at his own one-yard line with 49 seconds to go, cut off Auburn's last drive. James Brooks rushed for 210 yards, the most ever by an LSU opponent.
Although only 5'9" and 160 pounds, senior Wide Receiver Gerald Harp of Western Carolina has been a superb pass catcher. Harp's five grabs for 132 yards during a 28-21 loss to The Citadel made him the fourth collegiate receiver ever to gain 3,000 career yards.